Proposed Trade Gives Browns Running Back Shot at Starting Role

Baker Mayfield

Getty Images Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns celebrates with Baker Mayfield.

Kareem Hunt’s future with the Cleveland Browns is uncertain and a new proposed trade would give him a shot at a larger role with the New Orleans Saints as he heads into a contract year.

The Saints have a franchise running back in Alvin Karama. However, the All-Pro is facing a suspension following an incident during the Pro Bowl where he was arrested on a felony battery charge. Kamara is bracing to miss at least six games, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

That would open the door for Hunt, who is entering the final year of his contract and is currently playing second-fiddle to Nick Chubb in Cleveland. The Browns also have an emerging talent in D’Ernest Johnson, who returned after a breakout year, as well as rookie Jerome Ford.

Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus thinks Hunt would be a upgrade for the Saints over the current group they have set to fill in if Kamara missses time.

It would only make sense for the Browns to trade Hunt if they keep D’Ernest Johnson. The Saints are bracing for a suspension for running back Alvin Kamara after he was charged with felony battery in February in Las Vegas for the Pro Bowl. If it’s a lengthy suspension, the Saints need a better replacement than Mark Ingram, Tony Jones and Abram Smith. Kamara and Hunt could coexist in New Orleans’ backfield, as well.

Hunt — who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017 with the Chiefs — has proven he can be a force. He has more than 5,150 yards from scrimmage and 44 touchdowns to his name over a five-year NFL career. It’d be interesting to see what he could fetch in terms of trade value, with running back return not being the highest over the last few years.

Kareem Hunt Voiced Desire for New Contract

The Browns gave Hunt a chance in 2019 after he was cut by the Chiefs following video of him striking a woman in a hotel was made public. After staying out of trouble and proving his worth, the team gave Hunt a two-year extension in 2020 to stick around. He’s expressed a desire to stick around.

“I hope I get paid,” Hunt said. “So you know, whatever they decide, they know I’m going to come out there and give it my all and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win. … We’re trying to get there for sure. So I’ll see in the next couple of weeks.”

Hunt previously said his agent had talked “a little” to the Browns about an extension but it does not sound like anything is immediate.

“I really don’t know what to think right now,” he said on June 17. “I’m just trying to go out there and show them I’m healthy, show them I’m ready to ball out for them as long as they want me to, so I’d love to here for a long time.”

Chubb Has Lead-Back Spot Locked Down With Browns

The reality for Hunt is that he’ll never be the lead back in Cleveland unless something happens to Chubb, who is signed through the 2024 season. Chubb has made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons, breaking the 1,000-yard mark in all those campaigns.

Hunt has expressed a desire to be the No. 1 guy again at some point in his career but has a strong connection to the Browns, his hometown team.

“I love the game of football,” Hunt said. “If I could be a No. 1 guy somewhere, I mean, I just love playing football. So whoever would love to take me and have me be the No. 1, I’m going to go and be my best, but I’m home right now. I love being in Cleveland. I love being a part of this team. Whatever it is, I’m ready for it.”

An alternate route for the Browns would be to keep the tandem of Hunt and Chubb together and ship out Johnson, who could also be of interested to RB-needy teams. Johnson collected 534 yards on 100 carries with three touchdowns. He also notched 19 receptions for 137 yards.

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